Tom Ryan's Advice for Implementing Blended Learning
How do you suggest a 1200-student public high school begin the process of instituting blended learning?
Moving an existing public high school is much different than creating a new school from scratch. Building buy-in with teachers, parents, unions and students are critical to future success.
It is important for the school to identify the reasons for implementing a blended learning program and what school/student challenges will be improved because of the use of blended learning. Typical responses have been to expand access to high quality teaching and learning beyond the traditional school day, increase parent access and engagement, a viable RTI option, individualized teacher-driven instruction, increased student choice and engagement, credit recovery or AP course options, and flexibility in scheduling. There are a lot of good reasons, but focusing on your specific school’s need allows for greater success. If specific goals are not established, the implementation decisions will be more difficult to make, leading to frustration, lack of understanding, and limited success.
We will take a core group of teachers and administrators through a 10-week online course to give them experience in the online environment and teach them basic skills with online tools and pedagogy. The 10-week course helps the core team to see new possibilities. We work with this team to develop a multi-year strategy to implement their blended program.
Getting staff to think differently is a challenge. Don’t let existing budgets, policies, and ideas of time and place limit the possibilities. Bringing your core team to conferences and summits on blended learning will give them a much clearer vision of the possibilities. Finally, it isn’t necessary to “reinvent the wheel.” Find a blended school program to mentor you through the process.
I have started a website that identifies our training process and the components we believe are important in a transformed school framework called Education 360. https://sites.google.com/site/newlearning360/
Tom Ryan is Chief Information Officer for the Albuquerque Public Schools. He has worked for public education for over 31 years, as a teacher for 14 years, a high school prin-cipal, and district administrator. He has a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Learning Technologies from NMSU. Tom has developed the Education 360 framework that seeks to transform the way we deliver high quality educational services to students. The traditional “school” model considers “school” as a building that students go to for education. The transformed model brings “school” to students and meets them at their need. eCADEMY is one example of a Education 360 school that provides blended learning opportunities to credit recovery and drop-out re-engagement students.